A freelancer or freelance worker is someone who is self-employed and enjoys the freedom a traditional workspace lacks. Freelancers are usually not bound with a long-term contract. Some may even choose to work part time. The term freelancer is more common in creative fields when compared to other traditional workspaces. Most predominant fields include music, writing, graphic designing, translation. Naturally, these professions allow certain liberty in terms of not conforming to conventional working styles.
Although freelancers in the past were not very well valued, freelancing may just be the future. Forbes has predicted that by 2037, majority of the workforce will comprise of freelancers. According to some statistics, 36% of the US workforce constitutes of freelancers who work from home. There has been a large data gap in this field, as working independently rather than in a structured payroll job is still not widely accepted. When a survey was conducted to understand the prevalent mindset, it was discovered that independent workers can be fitted into two segments; people who derive their primary income by working independently and people who secure supplemental income using freelancing opportunities. ‘Free Agents’ and ‘reluctants’ derive their primary income from this type of work. While ‘Free Agents’ are self-employed by choice, ‘reluctants’ would rather be employed in traditional jobs. Similarly, ‘Casual Earners’ and the ‘Financially Strapped’ use freelancing to earn additional income. While Casual Earners do it out of choice, the Financially Strapped pursue it out of necessity like the name suggests.
Some believe that this method of work is increasingly preferred as it reports greater job satisfaction. This could be because freelancers enjoy flexibility in working hours, choosing the kind work they want to do and even choice of workplace. They also report lesser stress levels. Finding independent work in the current market is easier than it was in the past. This is the reason there has been a constant increase in the number of freelancers available in all fields.
Employers find it both cost effective and efficient to hire an expert freelancer to work on an ongoing project instead of a full-time hire. It makes more sense financially and otherwise for both parties to prefer this mode of work. More than 50% of freelancers have more than two talents, allowing them to undertake many contracts at once. It is also better to build a portfolio of customers than to work for one employer in the long run.
New digital platforms have created efficient marketplaces where customers can directly contact independent workers who are more than wiling to provide them their service. Blockchains may become a large factor in this area. Blockchains are difficult concepts to grasp but hold great promise in many sectors of the economy. They will enable freelancers to use smart contracts, provide proof of work and increase efficiency in money transfers.
Currently, more than 58% of freelancers do not get paid at all and 50% of them have problems with getting paid on time. Smart contracts will be recorded in a public ledger using blockchains, thereby preventing complications arising over verbal contracts. Another advantage of smart contracts will be the automatic payment once the job is complete. Likewise, completed projects can be permanently stored in a blockchain, providing proof of work and eliminating any theft of intellectual property, etc.
Money transfers can also be made easy as the transferring money through blockchains would mean that the traditional financial institutions are eliminated. Banks and these institutions charge a substantial fee for receiving these payments, but transfers with cryptocurrencies come along with insignificant fees. This digital transformation will bring economic benefit while freelancers will enjoy a sense of freedom like never before.
Employers and consumers will also benefit from these digital platforms and greater availability of specific services matching their needs. Freelancers will have a greater choice in choosing their projects as more people want to employ them. A study even suggests that working from home increases productivity and work performance by 13%. The time used to commute can be saved and that can even have an environmental impact. The internet continues to make our lives easy in many ways than one. Independent workers are going to benefit from these advancements greatly in just a few years. Freelancing is definitely the future.
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